Cullinane calls on government to tackle root causes of under-representation of women
The under-representation of women, for a variety of cultural and structural factors, will require more than quotas to resolve it, according to Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane.
The Waterford senator, who is the Sinn Féin spokesperson on political reform, was speaking during a debate on the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 in the Seanad today.
“Women are massively under-represented in the Oireachtas, and this has impacted upon the quality and balance of debate there.
“The people have shown that when female candidates are selected they are just as happy to vote for them as for males.
“These measures tackle and manage one of the symptoms of the problem. They do not tackle the root causes of under-representation of women, nor indeed of the more marginalised sections and classes of our society.
“They still face huge obstacles in terms of childcare, the times at which meetings are held, access to finance, the time that is required to be dedicated to political activity and indeed the male-dominated culture in Irish politics.
"I would ask the minister to work with other ministers to tackles issues such as childcare and to take more lasting measures to improve the involvement of women in politics generally, and indeed not just in elected roles.
Senator Cullinane commended the minister for taking measures to increase transparency on political funding and in limiting corporate donations, but that unless corporate donations were banned, big business would continue to have too significant an influence on Irish politics.
“Political parties have for many years been seen in this state as being far too close to big business, indeed many commentators would have noted that the Galway tent was a factor in failing to halt the overheating of the property market and the unsustainability of the tax base.
“I welcome the fact that the minister is reducing the maximum donation that a political party can accept in a year to €2,500, the requirements for audited accounts, the creation of a register of corporate donors and the reduction in the minimum donation that must be declared by a political party to €1,500 and by a candidate to €600.
"While that is clearly a positive step towards a more transparent political system, the minister has a chance to remove the spectre of the Galway tent from Irish politics once and for all, he should grasp it, by effectively banning corporate donations.”